Mountain Sickness

Medications, Precautions and Adverse Effects of AMS

Mountain Sickness

Mountain sickness is caused by high altitudes in the mountains and the mildest form is called AMS. If ignored and not treated may result in High altitude cerebral edema.

So why does it occur?

Mountains have an extreme environment with limited amount of oxygen molecules per breath you take, the air is cold and thin which further makes it difficult to breathe. These conditions have a severe effect on a human body and the results are fatal if not attended.


  • Your lungs are not used to the environment. Or you live near the sea level.
  • You are already suffering from certain disease like pneumonia.
  • You have ascended very quickly towards the mountains.
  • You have not taken proper rest and your body is not acclimatized
  • You have consumed alcohol.

Adverse Effects

Mountain sickness if left unattended has its adverse effects that include brain damage.  Severity of the sickness starts when the traveler ignores the signals sent by his brain about the oxygen deficit blood vessels and keeps on ascending more and more. The adverse effect usually starts after 3600 meters above sea level and the lungs start accumulating fluids inside them which further makes it difficult to breathe. This situation is called pulmonary edema.  This condition is still curable until the traveler suffers from cerebral edema which is fatal with immediate death.

Avoiding Mountain Sickness.

Mountain Sickness is a common problem among many riders as the journey is treacherous with limited amount of oxygen in the air. However, things may take a wrong turn and the traveler may suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS due to prolonged ignorance. Please bear in mind that Age, Sex or Physical Endurance has no relation to AMS and therefore should be understood with caution.

Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness

  • Running Nose
  • Constant Dizziness
  • Loss of Appetite and Constipation
  • Severe Headache
  • Breathlessness
  • Vision Impairment

Precautions for Acute Mountain Sickness

  • Proper Rest to acclimatize.
  • Drink more water than usual intake.
  • Avoid exercise.
  • Avoid Cigarette and Alcohol consumption.
  • Take carbohydrate rich diet.

First Aid

For mild symptoms the traveler is generally advised to take proper rest so that the body acclimatizes to the current environment. These symptoms usually go away in 24-48 hours depending upon the body type. Even though the symptoms may not look severe but it is advisable to take rest or else the condition may deteriorate. In case the symptoms persist, the traveler should descend down from the altitude and get medical assistance.

  • Direct oxygen supply.
  • Diamox, Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
  • Bed rest with least exertion

Medications to take along while coming to Ladakh

  • Acetazolamide (Diamox)
  • Aspirin
  • Paracetamol Tablets
  • Pain relief balm
  • Also it is advisable to speak to your doctor in case you have irregular Blood Pressure.
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